Thursday, May 30, 2013


The Force Field Theory of Kurt Lewin implies the influences of individual to his own subjective and objective facts superimposed by the forces coming from the group and the environment. The individual aspirations and the perceptions play a dominant part while at the same time the group feeling and the social environment have also to be given due consideration by the individual. It is the ultimate resultant force which prevails that can decide whether a course of action is acceptable or not by the individual.

It has also been described by psychologists that for taking a major decision a number of minor decisions are taken in series and that each of these decisions may be attended with post decisional conflict. In other words, all the pros and cons that occur to the mind of the individual in coming to a major decision give rise to minor decision making and the cumulative effects results in the ultimate decision.
For example a patient suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis takes a tentative decision to go for treatment. Even for this tentative decision it was necessary for him to know about his illness and possibility of treatment. It does not mean that he will immediately reach the treatment centre. He has to analyse within his mind the mode of reaching the treatment centre, the expenditure involved in going and coming, the expenditure. Involved in the treatment including diagnosis, fear of pain due to injections, pathological examinations, the social stigma and so on. He has to overcome each one of these barries by making sub-decisions and finally if he is able to resolve all his conflicts he makes a final decision to go and get treated from the treatment centre. This may again be followed by post decisional conflicts if he faces any difficulty in the clinics, or he does not get quick relief or he perceives treatment cost is high or he feels shame and so on.Mental Mechanism—Defense Mechanisms.We have considered in the previous chapters about behaviour and personality development influenced by socialization. Human behaviour is considered normal or abnormal according to standards and norms
72 Health Educations: 
A New Approachset by the society in keeping with its culture. The individual also has his own sense of discrimination to know right from wrong. All human activity is guided by perception. and motivation. Motivation is dependent on the need or tension. The individual is constantly striving to satisfy personal needs and at the same time to conform to the expectations of the society. With the evolution of the society and changing cultural patterns of behaviour, norms, values, etc., society, decides on abnormal or harmful acts which are referred to as ‘antisocial’ or ‘criminal’ acts. Minor abnormal behaviours are, however, ignored by society if they do not harm others. Harmful behaviours are committed by people who have deliberate motives to do the same or by those who are mentally unsound. In other words, antisocial behaviour may be due to certain selfish motives arising out of emotional drives or urges for a selfish gain. Also, people in unsound mind may resort to psychopathological behaviour.

When the normal individual resorts to wrong behaviour, there is bound to be a psychological disturbance. In daily life, mind is influent ed by various motivations and one is driven to commit certain acts which may not be society acceptable. Such behaviour will naturally give rise to frustration or mental conflict. However, for continued existence in this world every individual also develops, a mechanism of adjustment within the mind, to reconcile to one’s own action or to project one’s own feelings-to others, in such a way that the actions are accepted and given proper justification. The human mind is capable of resorting to various types of mental mechanisms.

The self or ego is the reflection of the individual’s personality. The super ego is the higher intellect in a person which takes the role of conscience and dictates to the individual what is wrong or what is right. If the super ego is powerful enough, the ego is kept under proper balance to avoid what is considered to be wrong. If the ego is not able to maintain an equilibrium and it is swayed more by selfish motives and id than by the ideal of the super ego, the behaviour tends to go wrong. In many such life situations individuals tend to commit certain acts or behaviour which are wrong and about which they are fully conscious and, therefore, such acts hurt their own conscience. However, the human mind wants an escape from a sense of guilt and tries to give suitable explanation for such irregular or abnormal behaviour not only from a self-reconciliation point of view but also to make others understand the error as something unavoidable and therefore excusable. The human mind is capable of making adjustments for one’s faults and to overcome such frustration and obtain approval of the society. Such mental mechanisms which help Motivation, Decision Making and Defence Mechanism individual to smooth over the frustrations and conflicts are known as defense mechanisms.

Just as the body tries to defend itself from external dangers and influences, the mind tries to maintain its poise or equilibrium by adopting certain defense mechanisms. It is not as if the mechanism will completely relieve the tension in the mind because if the mind knows that a reticular thing is wrong that conviction cannot be erased very easily. So the defense mechanism has an element of self deception in it. However, since it helps the individual to divert the energy in such a manner as to relieve the tension and also to make it appear to others that the behaviour is not wrong, it serves the purpose of defense.

The person is fully aware of the disapproval of his behaviour by society and, therefore, resorts to explanation or alternative modes of behaviour by which he can escape from his own tension and make it appear to the society that his behaviour is according to the normal expectations.

To the extension educator or health educator who takes on the roie of resource person, counsellor or guide it is necessary to know what exactly is working in the mind of the client and the reasoning behind his behaviour. We have previously discussed about cognitive dissonance. When a person takes a decision without proper internalization and logical reasoning or has taken a decision which is not acceptable socially or by the group the defense mechanism comes into play and it will be of use to the educator to know this and be of help to the client in overcoming the tension, either by reinforcing ‘he merits of a particular behaviour or by trying to change the behaviour with suitable arguments and reasoning. By a close study of the individual or personal interview and interrogation it may be possible to get into his mind and understand his reasoning.  

For example, an alcoholic may try to give a very logical reason for his drinking while according to his own conscience he may be fully aware of the wrong behaviour both from the moral and health point of view. He may, therefore, try to rationalize his action with a suitable argument or reason which for the moment nay sound proper enough to evoke the sympathetic understanding of the listener. In such a case, the educator will have to understand the problem in all its seriousness and motivate him to give up alcohol rather than continue with the habit and give convenient excuses for the same.In social psychology, a variety of mechanisms have been described as defense mechanisms, and some of them are described here. They are defense mechanisms because they defend the individual against

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